Concept: Community building
Health care professionals, patients, caregivers, family, friends, and other supporters are increasingly joining online health communities to share information and find support. But social Web (Web 2.0) technology alone does not create a successful online community. Building and sustaining a successful community requires an enabler and strategic community management. Community management is more than moderation. The developmental life cycle of a community has four stages: inception, establishment, maturity, and mitosis. Each stage presents distinct characteristics and management needs. This paper describes the community management strategies, resources, and expertise needed to build and maintain a thriving online health community; introduces some of the challenges; and provides a guide for health organizations considering this undertaking. The paper draws on insights from an ongoing study and observation of online communities as well as experience managing and consulting a variety of online health communities. Discussion includes effective community building practices relevant to each stage, such as outreach and relationship building, data collection, content creation, and other proven techniques that ensure the survival and steady growth of an online health community.
High prevalence of physical inactivity contributes to adverse health outcomes. Active transportation (cycling or walking) is associated with better health outcomes, and bike-sharing programs can help communities increase use of active transportation.
Knowledge Translation (KT) plays a vital role in the modern health care community, facilitating the incorporation of new evidence into practice. Web 2.0 tools provide a useful mechanism for establishing an online KT environment in which health practitioners share their practice-related knowledge and experiences with an online community of practice. We have implemented a Web 2.0 based KT environment-an online discussion forum-for pediatric pain practitioners across seven different hospitals in Thailand. The online discussion forum enabled the pediatric pain practitioners to share and translate their experiential knowledge to help improve the management of pediatric pain in hospitals.
A recent large Canadian survey permits us to compare face-to-face (‘real-life’) and on-line social networks as sources of subjective well-being. The sample of 5,000 is drawn randomly from an on-line pool of respondents, a group well placed to have and value on-line friendships. We find three key results. First, the number of real-life friends is positively correlated with subjective well-being (SWB) even after controlling for income, demographic variables and personality differences. Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income. Second, the size of online networks is largely uncorrelated with subjective well-being. Third, we find that real-life friends are much more important for people who are single, divorced, separated or widowed than they are for people who are married or living with a partner. Findings from large international surveys (the European Social Surveys 2002-2008) are used to confirm the importance of real-life social networks to SWB; they also indicate a significantly smaller value of social networks to married or partnered couples.
Sustainable Development Goal Three is rightly ambitious, but achieving it will require doing global health differently. Among other things, progressive civil society organisations will need to be recognised and supported as vital partners in achieving the necessary transformations. We argue, using illustrative examples, that a robust civil society can fulfill eight essential global health functions. These include producing compelling moral arguments for action, building coalitions beyond the health sector, introducing novel policy alternatives, enhancing the legitimacy of global health initiatives and institutions, strengthening systems for health, enhancing accountability systems, mitigating the commercial determinants of health and ensuring rights-based approaches. Given that civil society activism has catalyzed tremendous progress in global health, there is a need to invest in and support it as a global public good to ensure that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be realised.
Online communities of practice (oCoPs) may emerge from interactions on social media. These communities offer an open digital space and flat role hierarchy for information sharing and provide a strong group identity, rapid flow of information, content curation, and knowledge translation. To date, there is only a small body of evidence in medicine or health care to verify the existence of an oCoP.
Social network analysis provides a perspective and method for inquiring into the structures that comprise online groups and communities. Traces from interaction via social media provide the opportunity for understanding how a community is formed and maintained online.
To investigate the dynamics of social networks and the formation and evolution of online communities in response to extreme events, we collected three datasets from Twitter shortly before and after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We find that while almost all users increased their online activity after the earthquake, Japanese speakers, who are assumed to be more directly affected by the event, expanded the network of people they interact with to a much higher degree than English speakers or the global average. By investigating the evolution of communities, we find that the behavior of joining or quitting a community is far from random: users tend to stay in their current status and are less likely to join new communities from solitary or shift to other communities from their current community. While non-Japanese speakers did not change their conversation topics significantly after the earthquake, nearly all Japanese users changed their conversations to earthquake-related content. This study builds a systematic framework for investigating human behaviors under extreme events with online social network data and our findings on the dynamics of networks and communities may provide useful insight for understanding how patterns of social interaction are influenced by extreme events.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 4 years ago
Social networks affect many aspects of life, including the spread of diseases, the diffusion of information, the workers' productivity, and consumers' behavior. Little is known, however, about how these networks form and change. Estimating causal effects and mechanisms that drive social network formation and dynamics is challenging because of the complexity of engineering social relations in a controlled environment, endogeneity between network structure and individual characteristics, and the lack of time-resolved data about individuals' behavior. We leverage data from a sample of 1.5 million college students on Facebook, who wrote more than 630 million messages and 590 million posts over 4 years, to design a long-term natural experiment of friendship formation and social dynamics in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The analysis shows that affected individuals are more likely to strengthen interactions, while maintaining the same number of friends as unaffected individuals. Our findings suggest that the formation of social relationships may serve as a coping mechanism to deal with high-stress situations and build resilience in communities.
Government policy increasingly supports engaging communities to promote health. It is critical to consider whether such strategies are effective, for whom, and under what circumstances. However, ‘community engagement’ is defined in diverse ways and employed for different reasons. Considering the theory and context we developed a conceptual framework which informs understanding about what makes an effective (or ineffective) community engagement intervention.